Some surprising numbers on WSU's o-line

A FAMILIAR REFRAIN heard 'round cyberspace these days is this: the Cougars need to recruit tons and tons more offensive linemen in their upcoming class! But do the numbers really bear that out?

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By our count, Washington State has 15 offensive linemen on scholarship and five walk-ons for a total of 20 o-linemen on the roster. For comparison purposes...

Washington, between scholarship and walk-ons on their roster, list a total of just 13 o-linemen. Oregon has the same number as does WSU, the Ducks list 20 total. Oregon State is virtually the same, with 21 total.

But the difference is that Oregon has not lost an o-line starter to injury. Neither has Washington. And, you guessed it, same thing with Oregon State.

That's right, at OSU, UO and UW -- the same five have started each and every game on the offensive line. And UO, OSU and UW are a combined 12-6.

Meanwhile on the Palouse, four of the five o-line starters have missed a total of 10 3/4 games to injury. Another key reserve, the first OL off the bench, has missed four games. And WSU is 1-5 at the midway point of the '09 season.

MORE FOOD FOR thought -- out of the 15 offensive linemen on scholarship at Washington State, five are freshmen. And of the 15 on scholarship, six have missed at least three games of the first six to injury.

It seems the issue isn't that WSU doesn't have enough o-linemen, it's that a) they're young and b) they're injured. But for those who still have concerns on if WSU is recruiting enough o-linemen, Paul Wulff, a four year starter on the offensive line himself during his Pac-10 playing days, says the OL is always a focus.

"I've always been a believer we've got to make sure we're solid in our line play and have plenty of scholarships there," said Wulff. "With the situation we had when we got in here, we only had so many scholarships each year and every position needed people. It wasn't like; 'This position is okay, this position is weak.' Every position needed bodies," said Wulff.

The numbers seem to bear him out -- Of Washington State's 114 players on the roster, 77 are first or second year Cougars.

Of Washington State's 15 o-linemen on scholarship, only two are seniors.

SO WITH 13 o-linemen projected on scholarship coming back next year, how many does WSU take this class? Wazzu has two known verbal commitments from hosses John Fullington and Jake Rodgers. (Rodgers is listed by as a tight end but some believe the 6-7 product will develop into a prototype Pac-10 left tackle), which makes for 15.

And no one thinks WSU is done recruiting the OL for this class. But the question begs; If WSU were to go after multiple more o-linemen, on top of the current 15 projected to be on scholarship in '10, as some have advocated out in cyberspace, what positions in the '10 class do you rob to make that possible?

AS TO THE scholarship math, Wulff says he'll continue as he has since arriving in Pullman less than two years ago.

"We can only bring in 25 a year," said Paul Wulff. "You bring in what you can and try to balance out the numbers at every position...One thing about our offensive line, we really only have two seniors (on our roster). We have a lot of guys back next year who have played a lot of football...We will continue to recruit kids and develop them."

The number of available slots can and does change throughout the year -- CF.C's most current projection is that Wazzu will take between 22-24 for '10, not including grayshirts.

The Cougars have 14 known verbal commitments. Don't be surprised if a few more o-linemen climb on board. But expect to also see other positions and needs addressed as well.

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